Stats don’t tell the whole story of Washington Redskins running back
Third in the NFL in rushing yards (825) and on pace to finish the season averaging more than 5.0 yards per carry, the second-year running back is breaking tackles and churning out extra yardage with a never-say-die attitude.
While other backs succumb to gang tackles, the Redskins’ single season franchise leader sees situations like that as a challenge.
He refuses to let one player take him down.
“When I’ve got the ball in my hands, it’s like, ‘Get as much as you can.’ I refuse to let one person tackle me. ‘It’s going to take a gang of you guys to tackle me,’” Morris told ESPN980. “That’s just my mindset. Each play is my last play and that’s the way that I look at it and I try to do as much as I can on that one play.
Several times this season Morris has been in the sights of a defender nearly twice his size, ready to take him down for negative yardage.
Instead, with a downhill running style football purists crave, Morris sheds would-be tackles for positive gain.
It’s a credit to his offseason focus on improving his strength in both his upper and lower body.
“I love my lower body but you try to balance it out,” Morris told Redskins.com. “You don’t want to overwork and be like some of those people who walk around the gym [and] their real big up top [but not down below.
“Some people do upper body and lower body workouts in the same day. I prefer doing lower one day, upper the second [day].”
He’s also made improving his cardio a point of emphasis.
Admitting he doesn’t have world-class speed, nor will he ever be in the discussion for the most muscle-bound at his position, Morris relies on superior cardio to wear down opponents.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much energy it takes to run over somebody or drag somebody for an extra three, four, five yards,” Morris said of his workload. “It’s really tiring but it’s something I pride myself in, my cardio.
“I really try to make sure that I’m in better shape than any and everybody else because I’m not the biggest, fastest or strongest guy but at time same time, I can outlast you.”
“We believe in the running game and we always want to have a great game plan,” head coach Mike Shanahan said. “Usually teams that can run the football have a lot of success. We will always have that philosophy.
“Morris wants to carry the ball as many times as you’ll give it to him. He wants to help the football team win.”
While his body may not be as willing in the fourth quarter, Alfred’s determination is as strong as ever and often tips the scales.
“No matter how big, fast or strong you are, if you can’t outlast through a whole complete four quarters and sometimes overtime, there’s no way you’re going to be able to beat me,” he said with a smile.
With an identical record at this point of the season as last year, the Redskins have an uphill climb to achieve the franchise’s first back-to-back division titles in 29 years.
Last season the team came fast out of the gates following the bye week, led by a quick-strike offensive attack catered to the running back.
During the seven-game winning streak, Morris recorded 820 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. In the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys, with a playoff berth on the line, the rookie had a career day with 200 yards and three touchdowns.
Performing more like a fresh back off the bench rather than one who entered the game with 302 carries, Morris’ closed on the magical season with a bang.
The Redskins find themselves in the same situation (3-6) after nine games this year as last year. But only two games out of first place and with four division games to go, the Redskins control their own destiny.
Morris said it is time for the Redskins to prove their muster once again.
“We still have life in our division and our hope getting into the post season is still there [within] grasp,” Morris said. “It’s going to take like last year one game at a time. We kind of find ourselves in the same situation as last year [and] not keep dwelling over that because that’s been over.
“It hurts because the year before not much was expected of us. Now coming off the season we had last year much more was expected of us so the adversity seemed that much burdensome then the year before, but times like this are when character is defined and find out who you really are as a team [and] even as a teammate.
“We’ve got seven games ahead of us and we’re going to take each one of them one game at a time.”